Patriots' rushing attack off to historic start to 2020 season


The New England Patriots' 2020 offense looks a whole lot different its previous versions.

The Patriots defeated the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday thanks in large part to its ground game, which had eclipsed 200 rushing yards by early in the fourth quarter.

The running game has been a central focus of New England's offense under quarterback Cam Newton, who has amassed four rushing touchdowns and 122 rushing yards through the team's first two games.

Newton passes Cunningham in NFL record books

Newton has represented a significant change from ex-Patriots QB Tom Brady, whose offenses typically ranked among the league leaders in passing yards.

How much of a change? Consider this stat from ESPN Stats and Info:

The Patriots racked up 217 total rushing yards in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins and hit 251 ground yards Sunday against the Raiders.

You have to go back to 37 years -- when quarterback Steve Grogan and running back Tony Collins were running the show -- to find a New England offense that rushed this much this early.

The Patriots' 2020 rushing attack has gotten contributions from across the board -- Sony Michel topped 100 yards for the first time this season Sunday, while Rex Burkhead tallied three total touchdowns (two rushing) and undrafted rookie JJ Taylor saw 11 carries for 43 yards.

New England's offense has always been adaptable under offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and the Patriots could air it out again next week like they did against the Seattle Seahawks (397 passing yards, 67 rushing yards). But the ground game clearly is a path to success for this team.